That Other Place
Living a sheltered existence in the Tower by the Ocean, Princess Aloe’s only friends were books. She read every book in the library, and then again, until her head was a card catalogue and an imagination factory. She copied pictures from them, made lists of them, and built forts out of them once she had learned what forts were. Her favorites, however, despite her title, were never fantasies. Not the normal kind. Aloe loved the books about darkness, the epic poems that ended in tragedy, the novels that never ended happily. As a caged bird in a royal chess game, Aloe had never lived life; and so the grief and rage in the stories of heroes who fell in shadow drew her, compelled her, she who did not understand what it was. A blind man cannot see the sun, but he can look into it where we must look away; so it was with the late Princess Aloe and her fascinating half-glimpses of the shadows behind the sky.